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Favorite impractical, nostalgic gardening story

Posted by demigraf 10/z24 (excessspam@yahoo.com) on
Thu, Apr 24, 08 at 14:45

A few years ago, I posted a topic in the California forum about some butterfly iris seedlings I was desperately trying to save. I'd gone to a lot of trouble to save these little seedlings, even though - as someone correctly pointed out - this particular plant is truly dime-a-dozen in my part of Southern California. It had taken me 6 months just
to sprout them. Those that survived (3 out of 11) did so by finding homes in-ground in friendly soil.

Fast forward to present day. Since that post, a lot has changed personally for me. Structures have been torn down and rebuilt around the house. I switched employers. I spent a year remotely planning a destination wedding and eventually married my DH. I've taken up competitive cycling. We've started trying for baby #1. I'm now exploring ways to steer my career towards one that allows me more time in the outdoors/garden. It's been four years since I first collected those seeds, and it is with great satisfaction that today I report the first flowers are finally arriving.

So why did I go to all that trouble to see these first buds when I could have just as easily knocked on my neighbors door last fall, asked for a clump of hers and probably had the same results budding today? Well, it's pretty silly actually. The day I collected those seeds, I was out for a hike with an old high school friend. We were passing by the community theater on our way to the trailhead when I noticed some seedpods on the ground and simply stuffed them in my pocket. Sprouting them started out to be little more than a gardening experiment, back when I had a lot more time on my hands.

Anyway, it just so happens that I no longer have the friend in my life who was with me on the day I gathered the seeds. Without going into great detail, this friend made a series of choices that were causing her to suffer. And after repeatedly trying to offer help and advice - promptly discarded/disregarded - I felt I would be healthier if I put some distance between us. So even though I can't call this person up to see how she's doing today, when I look at the butterfly iris flowers that are on their way, I feel I will still have a little piece of my old friend as I want to remember her - a lovely, fearless, slightly mischievous lady loaded with brains and charm.

This isn't the only nostalgic plant in the yard. I still have calamondins propagated from both seed and cuttings which came from my childhood home. They remind me of my wonderful parents. Every year, I grow sunflowers that came from my sister-in-law's farm in Massachusetts, seeds gathered on her sunflower-themed wedding day. White jasmine blooms up a trellis, but started off as sprig that fell from the mother plant when my dog knocked over its pot (for which I profusely apologized and met a nice neighbor in the meantime). I have succulents and cacti grouped in pots that come from all over - places I've been and people I've known.

None of these plants are especially rare or exceptional, but I like having these living reminders around the garden. They serve as anchors to happy little times from the past that I might otherwise forget.

Has anyone else bent over backward to grow a common plant, where it was important to keep that one alive because of some special significance or sentimental value? If so, I want to hear your own impractical, nostalgic gardening story.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Favorite impractical, nostalgic gardening story

Well, I don't know if it's common, but when I first started gardening at my home, I really wanted some roses, and after taking some classes and reading on them more, I started hunting the nurseries for the right one.
Let me say, my Grandmother was a gardener and I was very close to her, so I wanted to follow in her footsteps. At the time, she was in the hospital and wasn't doing all that well, but we all thought she'd pull through.
I was at the nursery looking at the roses, and the one that I was really drawn toward just happened to be named "Grandmothers' Blessings". I bought the only three they had, and as I was in the midst of planting them, I learned that my Grandmother had passed away.
I have since then, taken great precautions with these in particular, because of the timing of it all. I had hoped she might recover and would at least get to see pictures of them, well that wasn't to be. The Lord called her home, so in her honor, I made copper plant markers that say "Wandas' roses". When I see them come to life each year, I get very excited, and enjoy them so much.
That's my story so far.
I have another adventure coming up here soon with a former nursery that's going to be developed as a car dealership, this woman had the most beautiful gardens on her property. I contacted the head honcho at the dealership, and he called me back, so I asked him if my neighbor and I can salvage many of the plants on the property and he said yes. So in the upcoming months ahead, we'll be busy doing that.


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RE: Favorite impractical, nostalgic gardening story

My grandmother raised an even dozen children under some pretty daunting conditions-
rural Texas, Great Depression, husband had bad health & couldn't work, etc.

The gardening space was devoted to food crops, but she did make room for one beloved rose, a Seven Sisters rambler.

After my grandparents died, the old house was torn down & the lot was sold, & someone leveled everything & built a new brick house.

Then, during the sixties & seventies, "old-fashioned", "vintage", "antique", "historic", & "Grandmother's" were not buzzwords-
the accent was on the new, modern, improved, etc.

I forgot about the Seven Sisters rose.

About 12 years ago, I was browsing the web & came across the Antique Rose Emporium's site & found-holy smoke!-Seven Sisters!

I sent off for a bareroot rose, & then I got to worrying about it, since I had no experience with plants, & I called the Emporium & asked them to change my order to a plant in a pot.

& the lady who answered my call never batted an eye, bless her heart, maybe I wasn't the first customer who called in fretting about growing her grandmother's favorite rose.

When it arrived, I followed all the directions & planted it in the best spot in the garden.

Then....
I got the flu.

On the 2nd miserable day of flu, the afternoon weather report was for a "blue norther", a sudden crash of temps, accompanied by high winds & sometimes by freezing rain.

It was already getting dark, & the temp had started to drop.

I dragged myself to the hardware store & bought a plastic painter's dropcloth (it was close, & I didn't know what else to do), came home to a howling gale in a pitch-black night, & kept the car running & the headlights on while I fought the wind to get that plastic on the rose.

Every time I had it situated, the wind would catch a corner, & the whole thing would blow off.

so I looked around for bricks or rocks or buckets or *anything* to weight the corners down.

Finally, plastic billowing but firmly in place, I staggered inside & collapsed, totally exhausted.

woke up the next morning to bright sunshine, went outside, pulled the now-tattered plastic off the rose, & discovered...

that rose hadn't even noticed the blue norther.

It was in a *lot* better shape than I was!

The Seven Sisters is now climbing the crepe myrtles & covering a big part of the fence, & I've dug up suckers & passed them along to friends.

& I still think of my grandmother & smile every time I see it.


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RE: Favorite impractical, nostalgic gardening story

My former neighbor and I lived in a mobile home park where our homes were close enough together that we practically lived in the same space. We were both there short term saving money for a down-payment on a house and one day while talking we decided we were going to use our yards there as a place to experiment before we moved into our permanent locations. At that point in time we got along pretty good but really didn't know each other all that well. We spent the next three years buying plants and splitting them, dividing and exchanging plants, experimenting with different types of bulbs, seeds, and some things we just pulled from random places and potted up. Our last year I purchased a modest greenhouse which we spent a lot of cool evenings in it just talking about what we planned to do with our lives. Despite my best efforts I couldn't get her to buy the house next door to me so we both ended up in different counties. It isn't a huge distance but it is far enough where we only see each other about twice a year and it is definitely not next door. We both took with us more plants than we owned pieces of furniture.

So, I have this plant that I believe we just identified the other day as pink sorrel. It is the first clump of plant she brought me and the person she had got them from had told her they were shamrocks. Later on we were told it was a weed and had a good laugh over it since we had made sure to cultivate plenty of it for our new yards.

I kept a fair chunk of it because it was the first plant gift she gave me and it only seemed appropriate that it be the first thing I put in the ground when we moved in. In honor of our friendship, that was the very first thing I did when we gained access to the property. I have plenty of reminders all over my yard of those times and our trials and errors but that plant specifically reminds me of her. At the sake of sounding cliche, we not only grew plants but we grew a great friendship.

Now, if I only had that plant my ex-mother-in-law picked and potted up because she thought it was pretty. Soon after, when she found out the hard way that it was poison ivy, she didn't like it as much as she thought she would. That was just priceless.


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